Never-say-die Terps reach Elite Eight

Mary­land over­comes two big deficits to sink Texas A&M

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY MIKE POT­TER

RALEIGH, N.C. | Mary­land couldn’t have asked for a much sweeter sce­nario than the Ter­rap­ins pieced to­gether Sun­day at PNC Arena.

The Terps re­cov­ered seem­ingly from the dead not once but twice in the semi­fi­nals of the Raleigh Re­gional, pulling away from de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pion Texas A&M in the last minute to win 81-74.

The vic­tory ad­vanced No. 2 seed Mary­land (31-4) to Tues­day night’s 9 p.m. final against re­gional No. 1 seed Notre Dame (33-3), with the sur­vivor ad­vanc­ing to the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Den­ver.

Texas A&M, the No. 3 seed in a loaded re­gional bracket that in­cluded three for­mer NCAA cham­pi­ons, fin­ished 24-11.

Lau­rin Mincy and Alyssa Thomas led the ACC cham­pi­ons with 21 points apiece, with the 6-foot sopho­more guard Mincy haul­ing in a ca­reer-high 12 re­bounds. Lynetta Kizer came off the bench for 15 points and Tianna Hawkins added 12, Hawkins leav­ing the game for good af­ter tak­ing a hard foul from Kelsey Bone with 7:38 to go.

“This one was ob­vi­ously ex­tremely spe­cial and filled with a lot of Mary­land magic,” said Terps coach Brenda Frese, who added that Hawkins’ in­jury wasn’t se­ri­ous and that she should be fine for Mon­day’s prac­tice. “For our team we have had so many games where we’ve been bat­tle-tested like to­day, but ob­vi­ously not on a stage like this in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

“When you bat­tle teams in the con­fer­ence and have to come from be­hind like when we were down 20 to Ge­or­gia Tech [in a 77-74 win in Col­lege Park on Jan. 6], this team knows and has the con­fi­dence we can come back against any­one.”

Fresh­man guard Alexia Stan­dish led the Ag­gies with 19 points, and Syd­ney Carter added 13. Bone chipped in

10 points, and Sky­lar Collins and Karla Gil­bert each added 10 off the bench.

“This was the best Sweet 16 game played so far in the tour­na­ment,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “You saw two teams that were very bal­anced. . . . The dif­fer­ence in the game was Mary­land’s of­fen­sive re­bound­ing and our turnovers at the end.”

Mary­land shot 48.4 per­cent to 43.8 for A&M, which shot just 34.5 in the sec­ond half. The Terps won the re­bound bat­tle 42-30, com­mit­ting 18 turnovers to the Ag­gies’ 14.

Mincy had 10 de­fen­sive re­bounds, the same num­ber as the A&M’S of­fen­sive re­bounds.

“We knew get­ting on the boards was go­ing to win us the game,” Mincy said. “We just fo­cused on get­ting on the boards. . . . We’re just 12 strong and coach told us to keep fight­ing. Our se­nior, Lynetta, per­son­ally told us to keep play­ing, keep play­ing hard and we all be­lieved in it.”

A&M dom­i­nated most of the first half, lead­ing 36-18 on a Stan­dish layup with 7:10 left in the pe­riod. But the Terps stormed back, cut­ting the mar­gin to 44-41 on a Hawkins bucket with 29 sec­onds left in the pe­riod.

“I think when we were down 18, what was play­ing in my mind was I didn’t want this to be my last game,” Kizer said. “That was hon­estly all I could keep think­ing. They kept telling us to board and kept telling us to de­fend.”

Things looked great for Mary­land when Thomas cut its deficit to 44-43 on a short Thomas jumper at 19:21, but then the Ag­gies were off to the races again. A&M again led 60-48 on a Tyra White layup with 13:54 to go.

“It doesn’t mat­ter how much we’re down, we’re go­ing to give it our all for 40 min­utes no mat­ter what the score is,” Thomas said.

The Terps re­cov­ered to take their first lead of the sec­ond half at 73-72 on a Brene Mose­ley jumper at 4:07, then led for good fol­low­ing a Kizer layup at 3:29 that started their 8-0 final run.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mary­land’s Alyssa Thomas and Lau­rin Mincy had plenty of rea­son to smile af­ter the Ter­rap­ins wiped out an 18-point deficit in their 81-74 win over Texas A&M and ad­vanced to the NCAA women’s Elite Eight.

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